Today is my dog, Riley’s birthday. He’s six. The alphabet fails me when I try to describe the connection I have with this animal. I’ve tried to do it before, but it always sounds trite and silly.
But it’s not.
Riley has healed the guilt and pain I’ve carried around since I was a kid about being the accidental murderer of two of my dogs. Not once, but twice, when I opened our front door to go out, first Sam, then a few years later, Rusty met their instantaneous demise by meeting a car driving down the street. I was only 12, the first time and maybe 14 the second. The sadness was unbearable, the guilt worse. It seemed to me that dogs equaled pain, and who needed that?
A full on campaign by my kids prompted me to find Riley, and it took six months of research that spanned the country, and multiple near misses only to get a thrice forwarded email about a family only five minutes from me who had bought a puppy and had him flown in from Minneapolis, but who, advertised as hypoallergenic, was not, and made the dad sneezy and miserable. His photo was adorable. When I inquired, I found that he was actually the breed I’d been looking for. I thought this was a little too coincidental, and even though we’d been searching for a girl, I agreed to meet this adorable boy. We met him at Emerson Park, where I’d coincidentally raised my kids, and fell in love almost instantly. We had him and all his gear two days later.
I have a home office, so while I go to meetings and am not exactly a stay at home mom, I am here a lot. So, Riley is like my office mate, and best friend. If I so much as go into the bathroom, he comes in with me. We share a perfect love of warm blankets and steak. He always knows how to make me laugh. We love to walk on a sunny day. We like to cuddle up and watch good tv. We really like the beach, and long conversations, in which I seem to do all the talking (although I am certain he will one day participate with more than just his face).
Riley was diagnosed with a back issue a few months ago and I cried like someone died. This confirmed that maybe I really did give birth to him, since I have had a bad back since I was 21. While the treatment of bed rest (ha!) and puppy advil seemed to cure him, only a few months later, he was yelping in pain again. Four visits to the vet confirmed he had Lyme Disease and crystals in his urine, which could give him kidney stones. Yesterday was his last day of the miserable doxycyclene, which has left him lethargic. Now we’ll have to treat the stupid crystals with more antibiotics and a special diet, which consists of a nasty tasting dog food and no people food. He seems to be favoring his back legs and I’m so worried that he will have pain for the rest of his doggy life.
But I’ll be there, as I have been, because I love this animal like I love my kids. Go head and judge me for that, but he’s just as important to me. Really. Not exaggerating.
So, happy birthday to my third child, co-worker, co-pilot, comedienne, outdoorsman, award winning sleeper, sweet, adorable and charismatic boy. You have made my life so much better. I’ll always try to do the same for you.